Bonfires and bonfire nuisance

During the period of lockdown due to Coronavirus, when people are staying at home, we ask that residents are mindful not to cause nuisance to their neighbours by having bonfires or barbecues. This is particularly important, as smoke can affect breathing and could lead to further complications, if a person is suffering from Covid-19. 

At present our garden waste collections are operating as normal. There should be no need to burn garden waste, if there is too much for the bin, please set aside the excess until the next collection. Your co-operation will be greatly appreciated during this difficult time.

There are no specific laws which prohibit bonfires or limit the times that someone can have a bonfire. However, if the smoke (or ash etc.) affects your property and stops you doing something, for example gardening or hanging out washing, then we may be able to help.

Contact Enviromental Health
Telephone: 01438 242908

We may ask you to take photographs of the smoke and bonfire and keep a record of occurrences to enable us to decide whether we should investigate further.

Legal action

The council has the power to deal with bonfires, and action may be taken against an owner, occupier (including tenant) or person responsible under the following legislation:

  • The Environmental Protection Act 1990 - if it causes a nuisance, the person responsible can be served with a smoke abatement notice preventing further nuisance. Contravention of a notice is an offence.
  • Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 - if it is having a detrimental effect, of a persistent or continuing nature, on the quality of life of those in the locality, and the conduct is unreasonable. The person responsible can be served with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) that has a fixed penalty charge of £100, failure to comply with a Notice can lead to a fine of up to £2,500.

Individuals can take their own legal action under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.  For this to succeed you will have to prove your case in Court and may wish to instruct a Solicitor.

If the smoke from a bonfire is blowing across a highway, the Police can take action under the Highways Act.

The Clean Air Act 1993 make emissions of dark or black smoke from the burning of trade waste an offence for which the Council can take legal proceedings.

Precautions to take if you are having a bonfire

  • Inform your neighbours
  • Never burn rubber, synthetic material or other chemicals as these can produce toxic and damaging fumes.
  • Site the bonfire carefully, ensuring that it is as far as possible from any fences or buildings, and that the wind direction will not blow smoke into neighbouring premises.
  • Never light a bonfire when neighbour’s have washing drying.
  • Ensure the bonfire is supervised at all times and that it is properly extinguished.
  • At no time should the smoke blow across a highway (road or footpath). This is an offence under the Highways Act.

Alternatives to burning

There is no need to burn waste. General household waste can be deposited in either your bin or your recycling receptacles.  Please see the Recycling section for more information.

Bonfire policy

The bonfire policy has been set up mindful of the need to balance people’s enjoyment with the requirement to adhere to health and safety and also the need to minimise costs of overseeing formal bonfires. The only Stevenage Borough Council property where fire is allowed under the policy is Shephall Green due to its Village Green status. The policy details how residents can apply to have a bonfire on Shephall Green.


Bonfire Policy

Useful links

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Clean Air Act 1993

Stevenage Borough Council is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Contact details

Environmental Health
Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House

01438 242908 / 242916